If you've been following my posts on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MarloSchalesky) you know that I've been reading through Galatians this week. I also ate lunch at Bubba Gump's yesterday with the fam (I had the shrimp cocktail! ... but not the beer - ha!). And that reminded me of this story of shrimp and servanthood. Read on to find out more . . .
I’ve discovered the secret to better understanding my Bible – eat out more often! Who would have thought I’d gain valuable insights into scripture at my favorite seafood restaurant? But I did.
I’d been thinking about Galatians 6:1-10 and wondering how to reconcile its seemingly contradictory message. On the one hand, Galatians 6:2 (NIV) told me to “Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” And then, only a few verses down, Paul instructs “each one should carry his own load.” (Gal. 6:5, NIV)
Huh? Which is it? Do I carry others’ burdens or make everyone carry his own? Which fulfills the law of Christ?
That night at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, I discovered the answer was both.
There I was, sitting with my family at Bubba Gump’s, munching a plateful of delicious peel-n-eat shrimp. Servers buzzed around, bringing buckets and plates of steaming food, scribbling down orders, clearing leftovers from the tables around me. Amidst smiles and clinking glasses, they asked Forrest Gump trivia questions and recommended their favorite dishes.
I stuffed in another juicy shrimp and reached for my iced tea glass. It was empty. But no worries! Unlike other restaurants, at Bubba’s you don’t have to try to catch your server’s eye, or raise your glass when they pass and jiggle the ice. Instead Bubba’s has this simple, yet ingenious, contraption of two license plates hooked together. When the blue “Run, Forrest, Run” sign is showing on the table, the servers know you have what you need. But flip the license place to the “Stop, Forrest, Stop” sign, and whoever the closest server is will stop and ask what they can get for you.
An empty ice tea glass meant that I needed to flip the sign. So I did. A moment later, a server stopped. Seconds after that, my ice tea glass was full again. And all the while, busy servers still zipped around the tables, getting customers just what was needed.
As I drank tea and watched the woman at the next table flip her sign, I discovered the secret to the mystery of Galatians 6. Each server was carrying his or her own load. No one was slacking, all were working hard to make sure the customers had what they needed. But they were carrying each other’s loads too. As soon as a sign was flipped, someone was there, whether it was their assigned table or not.
The key was they weren’t focused on themselves, on getting credit for being a great server, or making sure they didn’t do more than others. As in Galatians 6:4, instead of comparing, their focus was on making sure the customers, all the customers, were happy. Their goal was to serve, to do good to those of us who were seated. And because of that focus, they became an excellent example of Galatians 6.
The attitude of the servers at Bubba’s is what I want in my life – relationships in which the main concern is not “getting ahead” but rather “doing right,” where I’m working together with others to do good and to serve.
Relationships like that have to start with me. My focus needs to be in line with what Paul instructs in Galatians 6:10 (NIV), “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…” That, I’ve come to see, is what it means to fulfill the law of Christ in my life. It means to be focused not on self and getting an advantage, but on doing good and serving, and banding together with others to serve better and help more, all of us doing carrying our own loads and also the burdens of one another.
And happily for me, it also means it’s okay to eat out a little more often!